Why Do Tattoo Shops Only Take Cash

Why Do Tattoo Shops Only Take Cash (But NOT Credit Cards)?

We can all agree that cash is a thing of yesterday. In almost every part of the world, cashless payments are done either via physical credit/debit cards or via phone wallets. Some stores won’t even accept cash, while others will reluctantly accept your cash payment if you truly don’t have your cards on you. We are becoming a society of cards and ATMs, and there isn’t really much we can do about it; we simply have to go with the flow.

Now, considering that almost every single person carries cards, not cash, it can be difficult to complete your purchases in places that are still cash-only. Sure, you can go to the nearest ATM and get your money, but one cannot simply help but wonder; why are some businesses still only taking cash?

One example of such businesses is tattoo parlors. For your tattoo, you will always have to pay in cash. This is pretty important information for all the first-timers out there; so, if you’re about to go get tattooed, prepare in advance, get your tattoo cost in cash and you will surely avoid the awkward situation in which you give the card for payment and the tattooist has to decline and ask for cash. Running around looking for an ATM with a fresh tattoo is not cute (nor is it good for your tattoo).

But, why do tattoo parlors only accept cash? If it’s such a 2000-and late thing, why would they still operate in cash instead of credit cards? In the following paragraphs we’ll answer all these questions, so make sure to keep on reading! Let’s get started!

The Most Common Reasons Tattoo Parlors Accept Only Cash


When talking to your tattoo artist about a tattoo, they will mention you have to leave a deposit before the actual tattoo procedure. This generally happens when people plan to get tattoos in the future, so they require an appointment, or they’re requesting a custom design for their tattoo. In this case, the deposit protects the tattoo artist in case the client cancels the tattoo appointment or simply doesn’t show up the day of the appointment.

If a client books an appointment or requests a custom design and doesn’t show up, the tattoo artist can suffer a financial loss. Had the client not booked a particular date, the tattoo artists could have had another client take the same date and actually complete a tattoo and get paid.

Also Read: Walk In Tattoo: Can I Get One And What Do I Need To Know?

Tax Reasons

People doing things to avoid taxes is an old story, right? But, it is true; that some shops won’t accept credit cards because then they have a direct paper trail for income. The same goes for tattoo parlors; tattoo artists and tattoo shop owners will only accept cash to avoid any evidence of their actual income. If there’s anything to prove you paid for your tattoo, like a receipt, or any trail in their payment system, then the tattoo parlor would have to contact the IRS and report the income so they can pay their taxes.

Now, this sounds sketchy. Not reporting your income to the IRS, or even worse, avoiding paying taxes is illegal in the US of A. This is known as tax evasion, and if caught, one could end up in prison rather quickly. However, somehow the IRS still cannot trace the cash payments in these cash-only shops. Also, they usually let these things slide when it comes to small-scale shops and operations. Still, this doesn’t mean it is legal to operate like this.

High Payment/Transaction Fees

Every time you swipe your card at a certain store, the store has to pay the payment/transaction fee. For example, you’re paying for your groceries. Once the cashier swipes the card, they will charge you for the groceries and pay the company that accepts your card an extra percentage for the transaction fee, which can range between 1.5% to 4%. This can quickly amount to a lot of money, but it isn’t a problem for large-scale operations.

However, for a small-scale tattoo parlor, the transaction fees are simply too much. For every average tattoo they charge for, they would have to give up to $40 for a single transaction. Considering that an average tattoo shop makes between $200,000 and $240,000 per year, we can conclude that the transaction fees for credit card payments would go up to approximately $7000 per year.

Let’s be real! In these testing times, we’re sure no tattoo parlor earns that much money per year. So, this transaction fee discussion really makes sense considering how expensive it can get. Did we mention the credit card machines? Well, in order to accept card payments, tattoo parlors need to buy credit card machines which can cost up to several hundred dollars as well. By eliminating card payments, tattoo parlors are saving money, and we definitely support that.

Issues With Card Transaction Protection

Card transaction protection is an exceptional way of keeping your credit card secure. This system allows you to contact your credit card colder in case of an unapproved transaction made by your card. Sometimes people will charge you for something and you may not notice some hidden fees, or maybe you’ll be charged and not receive an order, for example. In that case, your credit card company can take action and withhold your money or charge you back.

Now, as useful as this is, some people will surely take advantage of it. For example, a customer pays for their tattoo using a credit card. Later, they call their credit card company to ask about a large credit card transaction to file a complaint and get their money back.

The credit card company will in that case withhold the payment and the tattoo artist will not receive their payment for the job well done. Some people are sly and dishonest and will use any possibility to trick others. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons tattoo artists accept cash-only payments because otherwise, they might not get paid at all.


Tattoo artists won’t tell you this directly, but it is a general rule to tip your tattoo artist once the tattoo is done. Tipping is expected and it is a really bad idea not to tip someone for their hard work. It is also expected that tips are at least 10% up to 25% of the final tattoo cost. For example, if your tattoo costs $200, then you should leave a $50 tip.

Now, imagine if all tattoo shops offer credit card payment; how would clients leave tips? One of the reasons tattoo shops accept cash-only payment is this; they can only receive tips in cash, and not via credit card payment.

Also Read: How Much Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist?

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we’ve managed to answer your questions. Once you think about it, it is logical for tattoo parlors to accept cash-only payment. Tattooing is a unique, personal service, just like getting a piercing, having your nails done, etc. Such services almost always accept cash payment because they’re related to body art, and paying for body art with a credit card is simply a bad idea. The service providers are not protected and they cannot be fully paid for their services as well.

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